The new motivation barometer for tracking sentiment towards Covid-19 related initiatives shows a high reluctance among parents to have their 5 to 11 year olds vaccinated.
“In general, respondents express distrust of childhood vaccination and report a rather low level of voluntary motivation,” motivation psychologist Maarten Vansteenkiste of the University of Gent told De Standaard.
Vansteenkiste created the motivation barometer, which between 15 and 20 December asked 3,270 parents who have at least one child aged 5 to 11 whether they intend to have their child vaccinated.
Half (51%) said they would either probably or very definitely refuse, almost a quarter (23%) said they have doubts and the rest reported that they’re “fairly” sure (12%) or definitely sure (14%) they’ll have their children vaccinated.
Differences among education levels
The percentages don’t change dramatically when considering the vaccination status of the parents, though they do shift when accounting for the parents’ education level, with more educated parents choosing vaccinations and ones without university degrees being against it.
For parents who didn’t complete a secondary education, 56% are opposed to vaccinating their children against Covid-19, compared to 43% of parents with bachelor’s degrees and just 29% of parents with master’s degrees.
“Especially among vaccinated parents, I would have expected a greater willingness,” said Vansteenkiste.
Doubts about the difference it will make
The resistance seems to be mainly due to the perception that children are not vaccinated for their own good, but rather for that of others. Parents who do have their children vaccinated do so primarily to protect family members and close friends and, to a lesser extent, themselves.
“Many parents also feel pressure to vaccinate their children or have them vaccinated for fear of criticism. That is not a sustainable motivator in the long term,” Vansteenkiste said.
Parents also doubt whether vaccinating their children will make a difference in the pandemic.
“In view of the fourth wave and the arrival of the omicron variant, vaccines may be considered an insufficient measure to limit the transmission of the virus,” the motivation report states.
Parents also fear side effects, and are sensitive to the idea of the government interfering in a decision many feel is ultimately the responsibility of families, despite the fact that vaccination is not mandatory.